Like many women, I have often wondered what it really means to take care of myself. Two months after my 20th birthday, I became a mom. It felt like, for so many years, that my life was defined by motherhood. I fully engaged myself in being a mom. My world revolved around my boys instead of my world revolving around what made me happy, content and joyful. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother and I wouldn’t change that for anything the world could offer me, but it took a long time to realize that being a mother was only one part of who I was.
Like many women, we tend to sit and fester in our worries, our thoughts, our perceptions of what our lives “should” be like. We fight what is right and that is the mere fact that if we are not healthy both mentally, physically and emotionally, we cannot and will not be able to effectively be all we can be to our children, spouses and family. Each day, as we lose ourselves more in everyone elses’ lives, we lose a bit of who we are. We validate our feelings by thinking that it is only right to put everyone before ourselves and we continue to “stuff away” our feelings and emotions and we all know that when the volcano erupts, there is no where left to hide! When we make the choice to neglect ourselves, we forget to shuffle the deck and the only cards that are left in our hand are that of stress, pain, depression, anxiety and sorrow.
Over the past few years, I have really made an effort to discover what it really means to love myself unconditionally. I am taking stock in creating and decorating a fresh canvas that I call ME! For example, in 2008, I joined Today’s Modern Family and I was able to use this as a vehicle for expressing my thoughts and sharing them with others in hopes that I might be able to reach one person through my experiences. You readers have returned my investment ten fold! Another example is I decided that I need time to myself. If it means I pick my own little space in my small house to hang a sign and say DO NOT DISTURB, then that’s what I do. It’s in this alone time that I listen to myself. I use this time to write, to read, to embrace myself and, most importantly, to slow down and acknowledge the changes that are taking place in my life and/or evaluate what changes need to take place in my life.
When we make it “all about us”and reconnect with ourselves for a little while, we suddenly are able to view our situations differently. This allows us to reframe and redirect our emotions and ultimately our situations. It’s the same picture, you just make the choice to view it differently which in turn gives you a chance to change the outcome. Evaluation is really key. We don’t evaluate enough because we are so geared to reacting first. Taking our own time allows for evaluation. Whether our situations be about ourselves and our spouses, our work situation, etc., we discover that we find more courage to handle them.
Here are a few tips on making it “all about you:”
- Find a special space in your house that you can make off-limits to everyone else. Use it!
- Pray or meditate.
- Travel. Escape somewhere you’ve never been. Plan a trip for yourself or you and your spouse alone.
- Lean into your fears. Don’t temporarily bandage them. If you need some help, seek it. Anxiety, depression and worry can be overwhelming and its OK to seek help.
- Pamper yourself once a month. It’s crucial. Get a mani/pedi or a new hairdo. It’s so worth it.
- Find a hobby that makes you happy.
- Exercise and eat healthier.
- Speak up for yourself. Don’t let resentment build in your relationships. Your spouse or significant other cannot read your mind. Speak up!
- Stay on track with what is important to you.
- Seek support.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Lead by example. Remember, your children are watching you. If you teach them that taking care of yourself doesn’t matter, they won’t do it for themselves either.
TMF Readers remember this…just like your car can’t run on fumes, neither can you. If your gas gauge is always registering empty and you don’t take time to fill your tank, where will you and your life end up? Stranded!
Peace & Blessings,